PreTeXt for Accessible STEM Materials

Scheduled at 1:30pm in Colorado G-H on Tuesday, November 15.

#36353

Speaker(s)

  • Robert Beezer, Professor Emeritus, University of Puget Sound
  • Volker Sorge, Professor, Progressive Accessibility Solutions

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 3-hr
  • Format: Lab
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: Pre-conference

Summary

This workshop teaches easy generation of accessible web and tactile content that features mathematics and graphics using the PreTeXt language.

PreTeXt is a markup language for scholarly STEM documents. It is designed to convert into a wide variety of output formats with special attention to accessibility. This workshop will introduce PreTeXt and its use by faculty to author and produce their own accessible classroom materials, with little or no assistance from specialized staff.

Abstract

This workshop teaches easy generation of accessible web and tactile content that features mathematics and graphics using the PreTeXt language.

PreTeXt is a markup language for scholarly STEM documents that combines the flexibility of XML markup with the rigor of typesetting formulas in LaTeX, interactive graphics, and live computational elements. While originally aimed at mathematics, there are now over 100 open-source university textbooks authored with PreTeXt, in subject areas including mathematics, computer science, engineering, physics, music theory, and college writing.

Unlike almost every other markup language (LaTeX, markdown, etc.) Pretext is designed to serve as source for conversion into a wide variety of output formats: PDF, HTML, EPUB, Jupyter notebooks, and braille (electronic or embossed). Special attention has been given to making the HTML output as accessible as possible.

This workshop will introduce PreTeXt and its use by faculty to author and produce their own accessible classroom materials, with little or no assistance from specialized staff. Our presentation will particularly focus on mathematical material and its accessibility, contrasting a traditional LaTeX workflow to a modern PreTeXt workflow.

Through multiple examples, participants will learn how the underlying philosophy of PreTeXt provides an automated conversion to HTML. We demonstrate how PreTeXt ensures accessibility automatically for text and navigation, while accessibility of mathematical content is provided by the MathJax library. The latter allows for a wide range of features and participants will see how these can be easily customized by readers via MathJax's context menu that is integrated in the web document. Finally, participants will also learn how PreTeXt can aid in the transcription of textbooks into Braille and tactile graphics.

Keypoints

  1. PreTeXt is a new authoring and publishing language, excelling at multiple electronic output formats.
  2. The underlying philosophy of PreTeXt enables accessible output, and can be used by faculty without assistance.
  3. Mathematics is fully accessible via MathJax with easily customizable features.

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Mobility, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, EPUB Track, Faculty Development & Support, Uncategorized, Universal Design for Learning, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Robert Beezer

Rob Beezer is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Puget Sound, whre he taught mathematics for 38 years. He authored an open source linear algebra textbook in 2004, which continues to be popular today. Based on this experience, in 2013 he founded PreTeXt, an authoring and publishing platform for scholarly documents. It has been a pleasant surprise to see how the underlying philosophy of PreTeXt has led to the automated creation of multiple accessible output formats.

Volker Sorge

Volker is Professor in Document Analysis and Accessibility at the University of Birmingham, UK and Adjunct Faculty at IIT Delhi, India. He is working primarily on diagram recognition, mathematical document analysis and handwriting recognition. Practical applications of his research include STEM accessibility with a particular focus on Web technologies and eBooks. He has been working as a Visiting Scientist with Google on math integration into ChromeVox. He is a member of the MathJax consortium responsible for the integration of accessible rendering of mathematical formulas on the web. And with his company Progressive Accessibility Solutions, he concentrates on accessibility technology that exploits image analysis to generate accessible STEM diagrams.